Yoga Program Honors Memory of UA Student - Tucson Local Media: University Of Arizona

Yoga Program Honors Memory of UA Student

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 9:06 am

Jessica Stebbins's eventual legacy would begin with a simple idea to establish a yoga class at the University of Arizona that would benefit individuals with disabilities and low mobility.

Stebbins, who used a wheelchair, was quite fond of yoga, but she found it was not always approachable or accommodating for those with limited mobility. She began speaking about the issue with her peers in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, which eventually led to the creation of a club and yoga class that now is being offered at the University.

"She saw something in yoga that could be beneficial or helpful for people who used wheelchairs," said Sheila Parker, a lecturer in the Health Promotion Sciences Division at the College of Public Health who taught one of the last classes Stebbins would take.

"She wanted to increase the awareness of what yoga is and what health benefits exist," Parker said. "That goes beyond what one does in the classroom."

Stebbins died suddenly in December 2011. But driven by her memory and motivated by her infectious enthusiasm, a group of UA students continued working toward introducing an adaptive yoga class on campus.

And after her peers founded a club and spent more than one year learning about the practice, gaining professional training and conducting an assessment for need, they also completed protocols necessary to launch a course.

The class named after the club, Yoga for Any Body, will be offered beginning Feb. 1 through UA Campus Recreation.

"I didn't meet her, but I felt so motivated by her," said Karen Rios, a public health senior and the club's president.

For their work, the club's members earned the UA's Inclusive Excellence Award, which goes to individuals and organizations who make important contributions to creating and enhancing a diverse and inclusive community at the University. 

With a flush face and eyes filling with tears, Rios said she could feel the passion Stebbins carried even after she was gone and despite having never met her.

It was by interacting with her collaborators – including UA alumni Drew Donnellan; students Elizabeth Brewer,  and Blanca Delgado; Honors College student Megan Morales as well as Eve Hampton, an academic adviser – that Rios began to rethink how she conceived of disability and ability and how she could continue to aid in launching the course.

"It's not about targeting a specific group," Rios said, speaking about the club and class. "It's about the unity of everyone; of everyone being able to participate in the practice of yoga."

Jessica's wish

Stebbins had been friends with Brewer for years through their studies in the College of Public Health. It was after Brewer began giving presentations on the benefits of yoga that Stebbins learned she practiced and taught yoga.

Eventually, Stebbins asked Brewer to teach her. Later, Brewer approached Parker about completing an independent study with Stebbins on the benefits of yoga for individuals with physical disabilities, said Brewer, the club's vice president. 

Stebbins died shortly thereafter, and on the night of her death, Brewer reached out.

"I invited group members working on a project with the two of us who were having a difficult time dealing with Jessica’s passing to come to my yoga class that evening," said Brewer, a public health senior who has been teaching yoga for four years.

"After class, they came up to me and said, 'What was Jessica’s dream?' This was a moment I will never forget," she said. "After Jessica passed, I knew I couldn't do the independent research project on my own. I asked them if they would help me follow through with Jessica's dream, and they said 'Yes.'"

At that moment, Brewer, Rios and others pledged to establish what would become Yoga For Any Bodyand would later connect with other students who either knew Stebbins personally or were devoted to her idea.

"Before I knew it, there was a large group of them interested," Parker said, adding that eight students committed to the independent study. "They are very much a self-propelled group of students. I have never had a group of students so motivated."

Parker guided Brewer and the other students through a general needs assessment and additional research about launching a club and eventual course at the UA.

After a major drive to raise funds, and having earned a grant from Mel and Enid Zuckerman, three of the students traveled to Minnesota during the spring of 2012 to study with nationally known yoga instructor Matthew Sanford, founder of Mind Body Solutions.

"Although Jessica is no longer in our lives, we have brought her dream to life," said Brewer, a certified PiYo instructor who completed the adaptive yoga level one teacher training for disabilities with Sanford.

"Bringing yoga for every single body, whether standing or in a wheelchair, to the University of Arizona is a contribution I am proud to be bringing to this very special school," Brewer said. "Yoga is not only a practice, it is a way of life and everyone should be able to have the joy of practicing. This is one of the sweetest joys of my life."

Creating a class for any body

Yoga for Any Body soon will launch at Campus Recreation. "There is a lot of emotional excitement around the launch," Rios said.

After receiving their training in Minnesota, the student leads returned to Tucson, teaching student volunteers how to serve as grounding assistants, individuals who will aid others with upper and lower body moments during the class and ensure their safety. Of about 45 club members, 12 are serving as trained grounding assistants.

"You can feel the impact of the yoga, and not just the physical impact, but the emotional and meditative impact," said Rios, one of the trained grounding assistants. "It is very meditative and relaxing."

The class, which will be offered Friday evenings through April 12, will cover the centuries-old practice of yoga, offering sessions in the seated position for both able-bodied individuals, those with disabilities and others with mobility challenges due to conditions like arthritis, for example.

"Spreading loving kindness is my personal mission in life. As an instructor, I have the opportunity to teach loving kindness everyday," said Brewer, who is also certified through the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

"I plan to use yoga as an expansion beyond the classroom into all areas of our community as a vehicle for wellness, healing and personal transformation," she said.

Brewer said she hopes that, above all, those who participate will be able to experience "'metta,' which means loving kindness, toward themselves their mind and their body."

Alan Beaudrie, who worked with Stebbins after she switched her major to public health in the spring of 2011, said it is one of the strongest examples he has since of students organizing around a shared idea.

"They continue to amaze me. This is something unique, but I can see that this is something that could easily be replicated on a national level at universities across the U.S. I believe that," said Beaudrie, the assistant director of undergraduate advising.

"They're not doing this just because they want to start a club and put it on their resume. It's a different attitude and a very good one, in a positive way," Beaudrie said. 

He recalled Stebbins and her desire to help others through the health profession.

"I think this may have been the start of something she, herself, could have gotten into. Not just with yoga, but with working with people with disabilities and helping them to live healthy lives," Beaudrie said.

In the end, Parker said she was even more impressed with the group because not only are they working to manifest an idea, but also because they took a course project and transformed it into a long-standing commitment.

"Some were new to yoga; others were involved for some time," Parker said. "They are just wonderful examples to other students of what you can do when you put your minds and hearts to it."

 

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Welcome to the discussion.

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...

Monday 12/15/2014

Arts and Sciences Are Writing a New Love Story Together

Thursday 12/11/2014

More hardware for UA's Wright

Wednesday 12/10/2014

S.H.I.E.L.D half season finale delivers Cats get a glimpse of the future in blowout

Friday 11/14/2014

UA Eller College To Share Economic Outlook for 2015-2016

Wednesday 11/12/2014

UA Humanities Seminars

Tuesday 11/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Hiring Interns? Top 8 Tips for Companies

Wednesday 10/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Close Encounter 'One in a Million'

Monday 10/13/2014

What's Up UA? - Austin Hill: The Comeback Kid

Monday 10/06/2014

What's Up UA? - Health, Wellness Practices Highlighted by Chinese Culture Festival

Thursday 10/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Ready for a Super-Fast Internet? UA Scientists Are Fast at Work on It

Tuesday 09/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Using the Force: UA Police Officer Completes NASA Project

Monday 09/29/2014

What's Up UA? - How New Social Movements Take Root

Friday 09/26/2014

What's Up UA? - PBS 'NewsHour' to Feature Inspirational UA Student

Wednesday 09/24/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Paves Way to Redefine STEM Education

Monday 09/22/2014

What's Up UA? - Wildcats Rally, Hail Mary TD Defeats Cal, 49-45

Thursday 09/18/2014

What's Up UA? - When Job Loss Equals Weight Gain

Monday 09/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Thursday 09/11/2014

What's Up UA? - 'What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman'

Tuesday 09/09/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Undergraduate Researchers Take to the Radio

Thursday 09/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Send Your Tweet – and Your Name – to an Asteroid

Tuesday 09/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Brown Foundations' $2.5 Million Kicks Off Catapult Corp

Thursday 08/28/2014

What's Up UA? - New Veterinary Degree Program Made Possible by $9M Gift is Critical for State

Monday 08/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Laser 'Lightning Rods' Channel Electricity Through Thin Air

Thursday 08/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Fall Enrollment Sets Record for Diversity, Number of Freshmen

Tuesday 08/19/2014

What's Up UA? - Remarkable Résumé: UA Student Journalist's Career Includes CNN, NYT Phoenix

Friday 08/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Through Innovative Partnership, 'Hot Shot' Team Tackles Yuma Produce Perils

Wednesday 08/13/2014

What's Up UA? - The UA Named a Top College by The Princeton Review

Monday 08/11/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Researchers Study Increasing Lifespan and Immune Function What's Up UA? - UA Undergrads Conducting Microgravity Research Aboard NASA's G-Force One

Monday 06/09/2014

What's up UA? - UA to Host U.S. and Mexico Officials Exploring Collaborations in Education, Innovation, Research

Thursday 06/05/2014

What's Up UA? - New Wilderness Medicine Class Hones Patient Care Skills in Rugged Conditions

Tuesday 06/03/2014

Track Cats Send Eight Athletes to TrackTown USA

Monday 06/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Bringing a Spacecraft Back From the Dead

Friday 05/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Heart Attack Patient Defies Odds with Tailored Surgical Treatment at UA Medical Center

Thursday 05/29/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Marketing Students Win National AT&T Competition

Tuesday 05/27/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Friday 05/23/2014

What's up UA? - Four UA Students Picked for Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarships

Wednesday 05/21/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Monday 05/19/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Tunnels Get Carbon Fiber Makeover

Thursday 05/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Earning a UA Degree, in a Grandfather’s Memory

Tuesday 05/13/2014

What's Up UA? - UA's Phoenix Cancer Center is 'Topped Off,' Joins Award-Winning Medical School Building

Thursday 05/08/2014

What's Up UA? - University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law

Monday 05/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Combating Health Disparities to Build Healthier Communities

Wednesday 04/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists at the UA Make Critical End-Stage Liver Disease Discovery

Friday 04/25/2014

What's Up UA? - A Century-Long Track Record of Serving Arizona and Benefiting the State's Economy

Wednesday 04/23/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Opens Nation’s First Resource Center for Student Vets Studying Health Care UA Wildcat Instant Decision Days at PCC campuses April 29-May 2

Monday 04/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Scientists to Begin Construction on NASA Spacecraft that will Visit Asteroid in 2018

Thursday 04/10/2014

What's Up UA? - Spring Fling Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Return to UA Mall

Catalina Bighorn Sheep Releases

Arizona Game and Fish released 30 Bighorn Sheep in a 2-Day period into the Catalina Mountains ...

More Featured Videos
Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll

Loading…